David Walliams as the Troll in Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After / Picture Credit: Sky
Between being an award-winning comedian, talent show judge and a best-selling author, there is not a lot David Walliams has not done.
However, in his latest role for Sky, Walliams was given a whole new challenge as he was transformed into a character unrecognisable from his familiar TV persona.
This Christmas sees Walliams feature in the latest in Sky’s After Ever After series, with Hansel and Gretel the focus of the plot line this festive season.
Here, Walliams tells us about his remarkable transformation into a creepy Troll as he takes centre-stage in Sky’s Christmas special production.
The Troll suit looks uncomfortable, so was it easy to manoeuvre about in?
It’s about three hours in make-up and prosthetics and then they put me in this big suit. I love a massive transformation so I’ve really enjoyed being the Troll. That’s one of the most exciting things you can do as an actor.
To my mind the more unrecognisable you are the more fun it is. People love dressing up at Halloween and as an actor you get to do that a lot of the time. I love when you are someone else. It’s the best thing ever.
Talking of trolls, Have you developed a way of dealing with online trolls?
I think the best thing is just not to read them. Why would you? Someone somewhere doesn’t like you. What are you going to do about it? I guess it’s the sort of thing that used to be written on toilet walls. That’s how I regard it. I personally don’t have time to write messages about other people and I don’t go looking for such things.
Is it fun to cast someone as engaging as Sheridan Smith, who plays the Wicked Witch?
Sheridan Smith and David Walliams star in Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After / Picture Credit: Sky
I really like giving her roles where she gets to transform. She’s almost become like a folk hero with the TV drama roles she plays so it’s fun to see her dressed up looking really scary and revolting. We feel very lucky to have her. I think she is the most popular actor on British television. It used to be David Jason but now he’s not making so much TV I would say it’s Sheridan.
Yeah she’s just a joy. You want to surround yourself with people you can have a laugh with and be silly with. When you’re trying to make comedy there is a lot of trial and error. I know more than most people that there is a fair bit of error, so you want an environment where you can come up with things then dismiss them and not worry too much if they don’t work. You don’t want to feel judged. Sheridan is very playful, she’s one of those people that every day when you see her you smile.
You worked with Cheryl Fergison on Big School and Little Britain. What does she bring to her role as the village Executioner?
In Little Britain, she was in one of the sketches where I played Linda who was really insulting about people coming into the office as she described them over the phone. Cheryl came in and she was just so funny. Matt (Lucas) and I didn’t know her work before that, she hadn’t done EastEnders. We just thought, ‘My god this woman is a comedy superstar.’ So when myself and my co-writer Kevin Cecil were talking about roles for Hansel and Gretel we thought Cheryl would make a brilliant rather depressed Executioner. She’s down in the dumps because she hasn’t had anyone to execute. We’ve seen lots of male executioners so it seemed more fun to have a female one.
What were the story challenges writing an addition to After Ever After series around the Hansel and Gretel story?
Writing a sequel your main concern as a writer is what does the average person remember of the original story? They tend to know the names of Hansel and Gretel but not know much about them as characters. They think about the Witch and the House of Sweets in the forest which is an amazing idea. I think with this fairy tale what you feel the most is the real sense of danger. As a kid when you’re told about the house of sweets it’s like the best thing you’ve ever heard. It sounds almost like a medieval version of a theme park. It’s really terrifying when you realise the children are going to be eaten.
Are you a big fan of Christmas?
Of course! I just remember as a kid that one of the things I really looked forward to was the Christmas TV, so I’m really glad to be doing something that’s in that family space with Sky. It was special because it was things that you wouldn’t have on at other times of the year. You’re in the mood for a certain something at Christmas. Maybe with a sense of nostalgia. As a family, you’re looking for something that you can all watch together so it’s not everyone just on their iPads doing their own thing.
Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After is available on Sky Max / Picture Credit: Sky
Hansel and Gretel – After Ever After is available on Sky Max.
Words by Matt Johnson for Female First.
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